« PreviousContinue »
who had it either by the light of nature, or by tradition from the church; and Melchizedec's priesthood (who was a type of Christ,) is expressly mentioned. So that though family-worship was then the most usual, yet some more public worship there was. 2. After the institution of Aaron's priesthood family-worship continued, as I have proved before; yea, the two sacraments of circumcision and the passover, were celebrated in families by the master of the house; therefore prayer was certainly continued in families. 3. If that part of worship that was afterward performed in. synagogues and public assemblies was appropriated to them, that no whit proveth, that the part which agreed to families as such, was transferred to those assemblies. Nay, it is a certain proof that part was left to families still, because we find that the public assemblies never undertook it. We find among them no prayer but church-prayer; and not that which was fitted to families as such at all. Nor is there a word of Scripture that speaketh of God's reversing of his command or order for family prayer, or other proper family worship. Therefore it is proved to continue obligatory still.
Had I not been too long already, I should have urged to this end the example of Job, in sacrificing daily for his sons; and of Esther's keeping a fast with her maids, Est. iv. 16. And Jer. x. 25. “Pour out thy fury on the heathen that know thee not, and on the families that call not on thy name. It is true that by “ families” here is meant tribes of people, and by “ calling on his name," is meant their worshipping the true God. But yet this is spoken of all tribes without exception, great and small : and tribes in the beginning, (as Abraham's, Isaac's, Jacob's, &c.) were confined to families. And the argument holdeth from parity of reason, to a proper family: and that calling on God's name, is put for his worship, doth more confirm us, veth it to be the most eminent part of worship, or else the whole would not be signified by it; at least no reason can imagine it excluded. So much for the proof of the fourth proposition.
because it pro
Object. 1. Had it been a duty under the Gospel to pray
in families, we should certainly have found it more expressly required in the Scripture.'
Answ. 1. I have already shewed you, that it is plainly required in the Scripture : but men must not teach God how to speak, nor oblige him to make all plain to blind, perverted minds. 2. Those things which were plainly revealed in the Old Testament, and the church then held without any contradiction, even from the persecutors of Christ themselves, might well be past over in the Gospel, and taken as supposed, acknowledged things. 3. The general precepts (to
pray alway,—with all prayer,—in all places,” &c.) being expressed in the Gospel, and the light of nature making particular application of them to families, what need there any more? 4. This reason is apparent why Scripture speaketh of it no more expressly. Before Christ's time the worship of God was less spiritual, and more ceremonial than afterward it was : and therefore you find ofter mention of circumcision and sacrificing, than of prayer; and yet prayer was still supposed to concur. And after Christ's time on earth, most Christian families were disturbed by persecution, and Christians sold up all and lived in community : and also the Scripture history was to describe to us the state of the churches, rather than of particular families.
Object. II. ' Christ himself did not use to pray with his family; as appeareth by the disciples asking him to teach them to pray, and by the silence of the Scripture in this point: therefore it is no duty to us.'
Answ. 1. Scripture silence is no proof that Christ did not use it. All things are not written which he did. 2. His teaching them the Lord's prayer, and their desire of a common rule of prayer, might consist with his usual praying with them : at least with his using to pray with them after that, though at first he did not use it. 3. But it is the consequence that I principally deny. (1.) Because Christ did afterwards call his servants to many duties, which he put them not on at first, as sacraments, discipline, preaching, frequenter praying, &c., especially after the coming down of the Holy Ghost. As they understood not many articles of the faith till then, so no wonder if they understood not many duties till then: for Christ would have them thus suddenly instructed and more fully sanctified by a mi
racle, that their ministry might be more credible, their mission being evidently divine, and they being past the suspicion of forgery and deceit. (2.) And though it is evident that Christ did use to bless the meat, and sing hymns to God with his disciples P, and therefore it is very probable, prayed with them often, as John xvii. Yet it could not be expected, that he should ordinarily be their mouth in such prayers as they daily needed. His case and ours are exceedingly different. His disciples must daily confess their sins, and be humbled for them, and ask forgiveness : but Christ had none of this to do. They must pray for mortifying grace, and help against sin; but he had no sin to mortify or pray against. They must pray for the Spirit, and the increase of their imperfect graces; but Christ had fulness and perfection. They must pray for many means to these ends, and for help in using them, and a blessing on them which he had no use for. They must give thanks for pardon and conversion, &c. which Christ had no occasion to give thanks for. So that having a High-priest so much separate from sinners, they had one that prayed for them; but not one fit to join with them as their mouth to God, in ordinary family prayers, such as they needed; as masters must do with their families.
Object. II. 'God doth not require either vain and abominable prayers : but family prayers are ordinarily vain and abominable: therefore, &c. The minor is proved thus : The prayers of the wicked are abominable: most families are wicked, or have wicked persons : therefore, &c.'
Answ. 1. This is confessedly nothing against the prayers of godly families. . 2. The prayers of a godly master are not abominable nor vain, because of the presence of others that are ungodly. Else Christ's
Else Christ's prayers and blessings before-mentioned should have been vain or abominable, because Judas was there, who was a thief and hypocrite. And the apostles and all ministers' prayers should be so in all such churches, as those of Corinth, Galatia, Ephesus are described to have been. 3. I refer
“ Method for Peace of Conscience,” how far the prayers of the wicked are, or are not abominable. The prayers of the wicked as wicked are abominable; but not as they express their rep Luke xxii, 17, 18.
Matt. xxvi. 27, 28. 30.
Mark xiv. 22, 23. 26.
turn to God, and repenting of their wickedness. It is not the abominable prayer that God commandeth, but the faithful, penitent prayer. You mistake it, as if the wicked man were not the person commanded to pray; whereas you should rather say, It is not the abominable prayer that is commanded him. He is commanded to pray such prayers as are not abominable; even as Simon Magus 9, to “repent” and “pray," and " to seek the Lord while he may be found, and call upon him while he is near, and to forsake his way?.” &c. Let the wicked pray thus, and his prayer will not be abominable. The command of praying implieth the command of repenting and departing from his wickedness; for what is it to pray for grace, but to express to God their desires of grace? (It is not to tell God a lie, by saying they desire that which they hate.) Therefore when we exhort them to pray, we exhort them to such desires.
Object. iv. • Many masters of families cannot pray in their families without a book, and that is unlawful.'
Answ. 1. If their disability be natural, as in idiots, they are not fit to rule families; if it be moral and culpable, they are bound to use the means to overcome it; and in the mean time to use a book or form, rather than not to pray in their families at all.
Of the Frequency and Seasons of Family Worship.
The last part of my work is to speak of the fit times of family worship. 1. Whether it should be every day? 2. Whether twice a day? 3. Whether morning and evening? Answ. 1. Ordinarily it should be every day and twice a day: and the morning and evening are ordinarily the fittest sea
2. But extraordinarily some greater duty may intervene, which may for that time disoblige us. And the occasions of some families may y make that hour fit to one, which is unfit to another. For brevity I will join all together in the proof.
Arg. 1. We are bound to take all fit occasions and opportunities to worship God. Families have daily (morning and evening) such occasions and opportunities; therefore they are bound to take them.
1 Isa. lv. 6, 7.
• Acts viü.
Both major and minor are proved before. Experience proveth that family sins are daily committed, and family mercies daily received, and family necessities daily do occur. And reason tells us, 1. That it is seasonable every morning to give God thanks for the rest of the night past. 2. And to beg direction, protection, and provisions, and blessing for the following day. 3. And that then our minds are freest from weariness and worldly care.
And so reason telleth us that the evening is a fit season to give God thanks for the mercies of the day, and to confess the sins of the day, and ask forgiveness, and to pray for rest and protection in the night.
As nature and reason tell us how oft a man should eat and drink, and how long he should sleep, and what cloathing he should wear; and Scripture need not tell you the particulars : so if Scripture command you prayer in general, God may by providence tell you when and how oft you must pray.
Arg. 11. The Lord's prayer directeth us daily to put up such prayers as belong to families; therefore, &c. “ Give us this day our daily bread.” It runs all in the plural number. And the reason of it will oblige families as well as individual persons.
Arg. 111. From 1 Thes. v. 17. “ Pray without ceasing; in all things give thanks.” Col. iv. 1, 2.“ Masters give to your servants that which is just and equal, knowing that ye also have a Master in heaven. Continue in prayer, and watch in the same with thanksgiving.” Col. ij. 17.“What
do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus ; giving thanks to God and the Father by him. Phil. . iv. 6. “ Be careful for nothing, but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.” It is easy for a man that is willing to see, that less than twice a day, doth not answer the command of praying “ without ceasing, -continually,-in every thing,-whatsoever ye do,” &c. The phrases seeming to go much higher.
Arg. iv. Daniel prayed in his house thrice a day; therefore less than twice under the Gospel is to us unreasonable.
Arg. v. 1 Tim. iv. 5. “ She that is a widow indeed and desolate, trusteth in God, and continueth in supplications and prayer night and day.” Night and day can be no less